25 February 2006

Weapons find 'has loyalist link'

BBC

An arms find in the Ormeau Road area of south Belfast is believed to be linked to loyalists.

A number of weapons, ammunition, and substances thought to be explosives were recovered from a house on Burmah Street on Friday night.

Residents had to spend the night out of their homes as Army bomb experts examined the weapons.

Police have said paramilitary involvement is a line of inquiry. Three men and a woman have been arrested.

A number of other items were removed from the property for further examination.

Statement by Republican Sinn Féin Vice-President Des Dalton

www.rsf.ie

25 Feabhra / February 2005

Level of opposition to Loyalist march underestimated

The scenes witnessed in Dublin today only serve to illustrate how out of touch the 26-County political establishment was with the depth of opposition to the routing of a loyalist march through Dublin.

Indeed 26-County Justice Minister Michael McDowell's willingness to meet with the organisers of this march while at the same time refusing to meet with the relatives of those killed in the British-directed loyalist Dublin and Monaghan bombs or the relatives of the Stardust tragedy, only serves to further highlight the gulf that exists between the 26-County political establishment and the views of ordinary Irish people.

The people of Dublin have shown their rejection of the ideology of sectarian hatred and bigotry represented by those who organised this march. The routing of such a march through Dublin was a completely irresponsible act with scant thought given to the consequences or the dangers it posed to people.

ENDS

EDITORIAL: Bomb revelations are not surprising

Daily Ireland

25/02/2006

The revelation that the British security service, MI5, withheld crucial intelligence information in the lead-up to the Omagh bomb in 1998 will come as no surprise to those familiar with the machinations of such shady organisations. The fact emerged during an investigation into an FBI agent who was working as a double agent inside the Real IRA at the time of the attack.
To MI5 and the other agencies of British intelligence, the lives of ordinary people are of little concern in their efforts to achieve their broader goals – in this case the undermining of republicans and the destruction of republicanism as a political force. The nameless, faceless individuals who pull the strings behind the scenes care no more about the death of 29 innocent people than did the people who planted the bomb.
SDLP leader Mark Durkan tied the news in with the recent decision to expand MI5 operations in the North. “Allowing MI5 to have a lead role in intelligence in Northern Ireland would be like appointing Herod as children’s commissioner.” He’s right, of course, but it is also true to say that none of the various intelligence arms of the British state is any less cynical and callous. Spies and spooks lie and hide and cover up – it’s what they do. And it has been an unwritten rule that no matter what they do, no matter what outrage they commit in the ‘defence of the realm’, they will not be brought to book, unless, of course, they blow the whistle, at which point they will very speedily feel a hand on their collar.
The families of the victims say the failure to come forward with vital information that may have stopped the bombers in their tracks is criminal negligence. Clearly, it is just that. But the prospect of anyone from MI5 ending up in the dock for their role in the Omagh carnage is slim to non-existent. It would be nice to think that those who kept this information to themselves with such devastating results will some day be made accountable for their actions, but that won’t happen. It would be nice to think that the British will stop lecturing the rest of us on morality, but that won’t happen either. This is the same British government, remember, which continues to stick two fingers up to the Irish people and to the basic concepts of justice and fair play by refusing to co-operate with the Oireachtas inquiry into the Dublin/Monaghan bombs. The Irish government says Sinn Féin still has a number of hoops to jump through before it can be considered a coalition partner, the issue of ‘criminality’ in particular.
Would that it would be as forthright in telling the British that the dirty war needs to stop and that the spooks and spies need to be sent home, not increased in number.
The Irish government is the only one of the players in this drama with any power to do anything about all this. The longer the Irish government continues to turn a blind eye and treat such behaviour as acceptable, the more the British government will feel free to indulge in it.

No justification for disgraceful scenes in Dublin City Centre

Sinn Féin

Published: 25 February, 2006

Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South West Sean Crowe has said there was absolutely no justification for the disgraceful scenes, which occurred in Dublin city centre this afternoon. He called on those involved to end their confrontation with Gardaí immediately.

Deputy Crowe said:

"Willie Frazier and the Love Ulster campaign came to Dublin today to be provocative and get a reaction. Sinn Féin urged people not to be provoked and to stay away and the vast majority of Dubliners, including members and supporters of Sinn Féin, did just that.

"It is disappointing that a small number of individuals did exactly what Willie Frazier wanted. There is absolutely no justification for the disgraceful scenes, which occurred in the city centre this afternoon. I would call on those involved to end their confrontation with Gardaí immediately."ENDS

Officers injured in Dublin riot

BBC


Irish police clash with protesters in Dublin

Several police officers and a journalist have been hurt during a republican riot in Dublin.

Disturbances broke out in O'Connell Street in the city centre, where a unionist rally to remember the victims of republican violence was to start.

Stones and fireworks were thrown after republican demonstrators mounted a counter-march. The loyalist rally was cancelled as a result of the trouble.

A number of protesters were also injured during the clashes.

The demonstrators said they would "not allow a loyalist march to pass".

Republicans have been throwing missiles at police in riot gear.

It is understood the counter-march was organised by Republican Sinn Fein - a political party which broke away from Sinn Fein in the 1980s.

Sinn Fein have maintained they are in no way involved in the violence.

Up to 1,000 people had been expected to take part in the Love Ulster rally to remember those affected by republican violence.

DUP and Ulster Unionist politicians were among those who had hoped to parade through the centre of the city, in a march organised by the victims group Fair.

A delegation was to meet the Republic's Justice Minister, Michael McDowell after the march.

Earlier this week, the Republic's Foreign Affairs Minister, Dermot Ahern, said the government had hoped the parade would pass off peacefully.

Republicans clash with gardaí at 'Love Ulster' parade

BN.ie

25/02/2006 - 13:33:05

Hundreds of republican demonstrators clashed with riot police in central Dublin today in a bid to block a parade by the Orange Order and victims of IRA violence.

About a dozen fireworks, metal barricades, bottles and stones were thrown at Gardai as loyalist marchers gathered 100 yards away.

Two gardaí sustained head injuries as fireworks exploded.

Dozens of extra gardaí in full riot gear were called in to try to quell the disturbances.

A line of about 40 riot police blocked the entrance to O'Connell Street as hundreds of youths pelted them with rocks, bottles and sticks.

The officers slowly moved in to disperse the rioting crowds.

Rubble and barricades from construction work on O'Connell Street were set on fire as riot police forced the crowd further into the city centre.

Republican slogans were chanted and around 20 protesters attempted to hold a sit-down protest in the middle of the street.

Gardaí quickly moved in and prevented the youths from blocking the road.

At the front of the GPO, the headquarters of the 1916 Easter Rising, rioters charged police and fought hand-to-hand battles with around 100 officers.

Mounted police were also drafted in to prevent more protesters joining.

A stand-off ensued for several minutes as dozens of the demonstrators again attempted to hold a sit-down protest.

All shops, in one of the city's busiest shopping districts, shut their doors for business.

Human waste thrown on jail warder

BBC


The attack happened in Maghaberry Prison

The police are investigating an incident in Maghaberry after a female warder had a bin containing urine and excrement poured over her.

The Prison Service said the officer - who was with a male colleague - was attacked in Bush House, which houses loyalist paramilitary prisoners.

Both warders received medical treatment after the incident. Prison governor Alan Longwell condemned the attack.

"The attack was highly vindictive and particularly revolting," he said.

"It was calculated to cause maximum distress."

The prisoner has been transferred to the Special Supervision Unit and has been placed on Rule 32, restricting freedom of association.

Officers injured in Dublin riot

BBC


Unionists have already staged a similar event in Belfast

Several police officers have been injured in a worsening riot situation in the centre of Dublin.

Disturbances broke out ahead of a unionist rally in the city.

Stones and other missiles have been thrown after republican demonstrators mounted a counter-march. The rally has now been halted.

Gardai and republicans have been involved in skirmishes in O'Connell Street and unionists are penned in at Parnell Square.

The demonstrators said they would "not allow a loyalist march to pass". A number of demonstrators have also been injured.

Republicans have been throwing missiles at police in riot gear.

It is understood the counter-march was organised by Republican Sinn Fein - a political party which broke away from Sinn Fein in the 1980s.

Sinn Fein have maintained they are in no way involved in the violence.

Up to 1,000 people had been expected to take part in the rally to remember those affected by republican violence.

DUP and Ulster Unionist politicians are among those hoping to parade through the centre of the city, in a march organised by the victims group Fair.

'Not simply airbrushed'

A delegation will also meet the Republic's Justice Minister, Michael McDowell.

UUP deputy leader Danny Kennedy said it was important their message was heard.

"We want to remind the people who live in the Republic of the great price and cost that there was in the campaign of violence waged by republicans who are now seeking places in government, both north and south," he said.

"We simply want to make sure that their past is not simply airbrushed out of history."

Earlier this week, the Republic's Foreign Affairs Minister, Dermot Ahern, said the government had hoped the parade would pass off peacefully.

British army denies surveillance

Daily Ireland

By Jarlath Kearney
24/02/2006

Sinn Féin yesterday disclosed details of a major British army surveillance operation in Co Armagh.
During a press conference in Belfast, Newry and Armagh MP Conor Murphy revealed a British army document which appeared to show that a dozen cameras are trained on Dromintee GAA club from Faughil mountain in the Dromintee area of south Armagh, as well as local homes.
All the homes belong to people who are members of Dromintee GAA club.
Mr Murphy said the one-page document had been discovered by a local farmer on land near the Faughil mountain British army spy installation last week.
“There are at least 30, possibly over 30, fixed spy cameras located on the top of Faughil mountain. This reference document shows you the location of 12 of those only and we can only speculate as to where the other 20-plus cameras are fixed on,” Mr Murphy said.
“Some of them are not in use, according to the British government’s own document here, but most of them are spying on individuals in their homes.
“Equally worrying is that one of the cameras was fixed on the GAA club in Dromintee which services all of the community in that area and has a substantial membership in the community.
“It begs the question as to what the nature of this spying activity was for. I think this points to what has been a very intrusive British army spying operation for many years.
“This points up very clearly, that the focus of that spying was not on what British army people would allege were IRA activities, but on the entire community and south Armagh area,” Mr Murphy said.
Mr Murphy said that his party will be raising the ongoing spying activities with British prime minister Tony Blair during a meeting next week.
Mr Murphy’s party colleague, councillor Patrick McDonald, was the only Sinn Féin member targeted in the surveillance operation. The Sinn Féin press conference was also attended by Dromintee GAA club spokesperson Declan Fearon and Sinn Féin assembly member Davy Hyland.
Speaking to Daily Ireland yesterday, a British army spokesperson refused to comment on the document.
“We do not comment on alleged operational activity,” the spokesperson said.
The grid-type document released by Sinn Féin was headed R21M Pathfinder Camera Reference Guide. A British army insignia of a sphinx over the title ‘EGYPT’ was visible in the top-left hand corner of the original document.
A total of 12 cameras were detailed on the document by reference to the domestic or social locations associated with surveillance targets. Each location was cross-referenced with a numbered camera, believed to be mounted on the Faughil Mountain spy installation. Four of the cameras were marked ‘not in use’.
The Pathfinder camera system is an ‘intelligent’ video motion sensor system which reacts only to the movement of people or vehicles, but is not affected by environmental movement from foliage or climate changes. Pathfinder can loop a large number of cameras onto a single monitoring system.
When a Pathfinder camera detects movement within its field of vision, it can automatically display images of the scene which has been activitated onto a monitor.
However, Pathfinder is also the name of a special forces unit within the Parachute Regiment which has close links with the SAS.
The Para’s Pathfinder Platoon is a key surveillance and covert reconnaissance unit which specialises in the “location and marking of drop zones, tactical landing zones and helicopter landing sites”.
Despite the prevalence of helicopter activity in south Armagh, a British government source yesterday adamantly denied that the Pathfinder Platoon has ever been deployed in Ireland.
While the insignia of a sphinx is used prominently by the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry, it also features as an integral part of the badges and colours of some other units of the British army.
Both the Parachute Regiment and the Blackwatch – which is currently stationed in South Armagh – have ‘Sphinx’ batteries attached to them. The Royal Artillery’s 4/73 (Sphinx) Special Observation Post Battery is also known to have been involved in staffing spy posts across the North.

Advancing the agenda for an Ireland of equals

Irelandclick

MLA for North Belfast, Gerry Kelly responds to Gearóid ó Cairealláin’s column in our last edition

In his column last week on the launch of the SDLP’s North-South‚ document, Gearóid Ó Cairealláin set down a challenge for Sinn Féin ‘to tell us what their vision for our future is’. Or rather, what practical measures we propose for all-Ireland development, and what are the concrete steps to be taken in order to achieve that scenario.
I’m only too glad to take Gearóid up on his request, to outline Sinn Féin’s All Ireland Agenda programme of work, to touch on the projects which make it up, and how all our activity fits into our vision of an Ireland of equals - the vision of the 1916 Proclamation.
Sinn Féin welcomed the SDLP proposals as part of a growing consensus on the development of an All Ireland agenda, from political parties, the Irish and British governments, and from industry, educationalists, healthcare workers and other sectors.
In February 2004, Sinn Féin published its 75 page proposals for ‘Expansion of All Ireland Institutions and Areas of Work’ after presenting them to the two governments as part of the review of the Good Friday Agreement.
The paper contained detailed proposals for:
1. Expanding the remits of the existing All-Ireland implementation bodies and areas of cooperation
2. Identification of new areas of cooperation and further implementation bodies
3. The establishment of the all Ireland institutions of the GFA - the All Ireland Parliamentary Forum and All Ireland Consultative Civic Forum
4. The initiation of a process to produce an All Ireland Human Rights Charter to underpin All Ireland governance, asserting comprehensive social economic, cultural and political rights.
With our 32 county wide representation, Sinn Féin are also using these proposals in a campaigning way, with our MLAs and TDs involved in meetings with groups and NGOs in each and every sector, outlining our ideas for All Ireland expansion, and working to create the demand for increased and structured cooperation.
But anyone who watched the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis live on RTÉ on Saturday will know that this is only one of the elements of our All Ireland Agenda project.
In February last year Gerry Adams launched our discussion document, ‘A Green Paper for Irish Unity’ to open up a campaign to urge the Irish government to table a green paper in Leinster House, to begin the practical planning and preparation for re-unification.
Sinn Féin’s document has been launched publicly in many parts across the 32 counties, from Ballinasloe to Lurgan, Portlaoise to Waterford, and distributed locally by our cumann activists. In Council chambers North and South, Sinn Féin councillors have tabled motions on this subject. In the last two weeks, both Omagh and Strabane Councils have passed this motion, and are now to officially write to An Taoiseach, urging him to move on this issue. In November our TDs in Leinster House sponsored a debate on our proposals, to make the other parties in the chamber tell the people where they stood on the aspiration to re-unification, to which they all at least pay lip service.
Sinn Féin councillors in the border corridor region are involved in the Cross Border Corridor Groups (CBCGs) which involve representatives from all the councils in that area coming together and working through the EU Interreg funding partnerships to promote, encourage and fund local projects which cut across the border.
Our councillors come together as the party’s AONTU (Unity) group, to coordinate their strategy on the CBCGs. One of our objectives is to promote and lobby for Integrated Area Plans for this region, to work to make the border irrelevant and invisible for those who live and work in this multi-deprived and isolated region.
Across the 32 counties, Sinn Féin’s councillors are now involved in implementing our Regional Campaigning strategy, where our elected representatives come together on a regional basis, identify the campaigns which are important and relevant to the people in their area.
And they work to both lead and empower local communities to agitate on these issues - whether in the south east, in Connacht, in greater Dublin or in the north-west region of Derry, Donegal and Tyrone.
We are also involved in constant lobbying around the refusal of the Irish government to move on the issue of the representation of Northern MPs in the Oireachtas, and Ógra Shinn Féin have organised an energetic campaign around ‘A President For All’ to enable all Irish citizens to be allowed to vote in Presidential elections
Sinn Féin are also continuing with an island-wide consultation on our “Rights For All Charter”, which was first launched in 2004. This discussion paper will open up the debate on the shape and form of the All Ireland Charter of Human Rights.
And over the past 18 months we have engaged with groups and NGOs, to listen to them and their views of what rights such a charter should contain.
We have met with anti-poverty groups, disability groups, women’s groups and a wide range of others.
The shape and form of the new Ireland is at the centre of Sinn Féin’s activity on our All Ireland Agenda project.
Our vision for the future is for a rights-based society, one which truly does ‘cherish all of the children of the nation equally’, as the Easter Proclamation of 1916 stated.
It’s fitting in this, the 90th anniversary of that historic rising, that modern-day republican activists are carrying on that vision, engaging with the people, right across Ireland, on the detail of the society we aspire to create.

Nationalist war-of-words over talks

Irelandclick

A war of words has broken out between two North Belfast MLA’s after a Sinn Féin representative accused the SDLP of joining with the DUP to “undermine the Good Friday Agreement.”
Gerry Kelly was speaking following the British and Irish governments’ confirmation that the SDLP and DUP had agreed to take part in round-table discussions without Sinn Féin. The talks process was criticised by the UUP and the republican party.
“In our discussions this afternoon [Tuesday] the two governments indicated that they wished to press ahead with a round-table meeting involving the DUP and the other parties but excluding Sinn Féin. We told the two governments in no uncertain terms that this approach was completely unacceptable and it was simply not an option to try and exclude the vast majority of nationalist opinion from such dialogue.
“It also became clear that the UUP were not on board for such an approach being adopted but that the SDLP and DUP had indeed signed on which saw the exclusion of the largest nationalist party from the round table.
“The SDLP now have serious questions to answer. It was the SDLP who complained bitterly that they were excluded by the two governments from playing a full role in the talks of late 2004 yet have now aligned themselves with Ian Paisley and the DUP in trying to exclude nationalist and republican opinion from these discussions.”
But North Belfast MLA Alban Maginness hit back at Sinn Féin saying the SDLP want to see everyone involved in round-table discussions.
“The SDLP is certainly committed to full and comprehensive negotiations amongst all the parties, including the DUP and Sinn Féin.
“Unlike Sinn Féin at Leeds Castle, who dealt exclusively with the DUP through intermediaries, we are committed to an inclusive talks process and seek agreement amongst all the parties including the DUP with whom Sinn Féin are very anxious to build a political accommodation to the exclusion of the SDLP.”

Journalist:: Evan Short

Facing the truth

Irelandclick

Local community worker Joe Doherty has faced the widow and daughter of a paratrooper who died in the Narrow Water bombing.
The former IRA member met the two women and two former paratroopers as part of a BBC series called ‘Facing The Truth’ which brings opposing sides of the Troubles together to discuss the past.
The parties involved in the programme met in the presence of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The programme is due to be broadcast in March.
Joe Doherty was in prison when an IRA bomb killed 18 members of the Parachute regiment in Warrenpoint in 1979.
Joe Doherty was not involved in the Narrow Water bombing, but he was willing to talk to the family of Walter Beard, who died that day, as well as one soldier who was seriously injured in the attack and another soldier who was part of the rescue party.
Joe Doherty said that when he met up with the family and the soldiers they each gave their own accounts of what their experience had been through the conflict.
The BBC approached Joe Doherty to be in the series last year. He said he wanted to be sure the show would be balanced.
“If the show was going to be a success it needed to open up dialogue between former combatants and victims and it needed to include all the parties involved,” he said.
Joe said he got a chance to explain his life and background to those he was facing, saying it was important that actions were placed in context of the time.
“I explained that I had been involved in the republican movement from 1970, I have been interned without trial and have spent a total of 23 years in prison. I believe we were living in a quasi-apartheid state. Civil rights marches were banned and people were beaten off the streets. That was the foundation for discontent within the nationalist community”.
Joe is apprehensive about how the show will be received. “I worry about what will be left on the cutting room floor because the show is only an hour long”.
Bishop Tutu asked Joe whether he had regrets. “I said no, not in a political sense, it’s difficult to reflect back on that. Certainly you regret that almost 3,000 people died,” he said.
“I did not go to war, the war came to me. In pure moral terms, of course, people shouldn’t die. But you have to qualify that. It’s not the republicans or the loyalists on the ground who were responsible. It was the environment in which we all grew up”.
Joe said it was important to listen to the experiences of the woman whose husband died in Narrow Water. “She told about how the chaplain came to tell her that her husband had died and all the trauma that she went through,” he said.
Joe was asked about the day he found out about the bombing. “I was in Long Kesh at the time and I cheered it on. I told her that it had to be put in the context of the conflict. Each attack on the British army, we saw that as part of an objective to bring us towards negotiations. At that time we didn’t think about a chaplain telling a woman her husband was dead or that he had a family,” he admitted.
After the programme had been filmed Joe went out for lunch with the two women and the two soldiers. Joe, who’s presently working as a community development worker for the Parkside Community Association, listened to their stories and then talked over lunch about the work he does with young people.
The programme was a positive step, according to Joe, and he feels that “the next step would be a truth and reconciliation process in which all parties are involved”.

Journalist:: Staff Journalist

Slap in face for families

Daily Ireland

by Ciarán Barnes
24/02/2006

Relatives of those killed in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings have criticised the Irish Justice minister for agreeing to meet with loyalists taking part in a march through the capital tomorrow.
Michael McDowell is to host a Love Ulster delegation that includes organiser Willie Frazer and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MP Jeffrey Donaldson.
The Justice for the Forgotten group, which campaigns on behalf of the 33 people who lost their lives in the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan attacks, have criticised the get-together.
The organisation is unhappy that Mr Frazer will attend the meeting.
In 2003, the high-profile Co Armagh loyalist had his gun license revoked, and an application to carry a personal protection firearm turned down.
The PSNI refused the personal firearm application on the grounds that he was associating with individuals believed to have had contact with persons linked to paramilitary organisations.
Speaking to Daily Ireland on Wednesday, Mr Frazer said he could not guarantee that images of loyalist paramilitary, Robert McConnell, who took part in the Dublin bomb attack, would not be on display during the Love Ulster rally.
In light of these comments and the PSNI’s belief that Mr Frazer has associated with “persons linked to paramilitary organisations”, there have been calls for Mr McDowell to cancel his Love Ulster meeting.
Margaret Irwin, of Justice for the Forgotten, said: “Families of those who died in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings are angry with the minister.
“Mr McDowell should call off the meeting immediately. I can’t believe he has agreed to meet with Mr Frazer – a man with alleged paramilitary associations – after a rally that will involve loyalists with connections to the gangs who blew up Dublin and Monaghan.
“The Justice for the Forgotten families are really offended. It is bad enough having this parade through the centre of Dublin, but for our Justice Minister to then meet with the organisers is nothing more than a slap in the face.”
The Department of Justice said Mr McDowell was invited to meet the delegation from south Armagh Protestant victims’ group Families Acting for Innocent Relatives, by DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson.
A spokesperson added that the Minister was never asked to attend the rally or speak at it.
Around 1,000 loyalists, including members of the Orange Order, and six bands are to take part in the afternoon Love Ulster demonstration along O’Connell Street. Dissident republicans opposed to the march are to stage a counter-demonstration at Parnell’s monument.

Whether we like it or not we live with it

Nenagh Guardian

O’Donoghue’s View

Our good president, Mary McAleese, has been making a few waves in recent times. And judging by the reaction of various media commentators and letter writers, it would seem that she has stirred up quite a few hornets’ nests. But then, the same woman was never averse to expressing her opinion when she felt it necessary, and like everyone else with an opinion she won’t please all the people all the time.

I for one couldn’t agree with the views she expressed recently in Saudi Arabia when she said that the Irish people “abhorred” the publication of the Danish cartoons lampooning the prophet Mohammed. She said this as if she was speaking for us all, but I think she got it wrong - totally. Very few Irish, with the exception of some native Muslims, some politically correct types and the overly sensitive, would have felt abhorrence at the cartoons. Most of us have seen this kind of thing many times before, and whether we like it or not we live with it and then it goes away and is deservedly forgotten. Anyway, it is obvious she tailored her speech to suit her audience and she wouldn’t be the first to do that.

A few weeks before, towards the end of January, Mrs McAleese made another speech which was much more relevant to the people of Ireland and much more important in terms of how we see ourselves as a nation and where we came from. On this occasion she was in UCC addressing a conference entitled The Long Revolution - the 1916 Rising in context. Given that this year is the 90th anniversary of the Rising and the fact that the Government are reinstating an Easter parade in commemoration of the event, and the fact that the historical conflict appears to be reaching its endgame, it is entirely appropriate that our president should take up the issue.

This speech has provoked quite a lot of reaction, which I will come back to, but for its direct engagement with the men and women involved and the ideals they aspired to, it was an address of the highest significance for all living on this island. I have read the text of the speech but for those who haven’t I will quote a few excerpts.

“We who are of this strong, independent and high-achieving Ireland would do well to ponder the extent to which today’s freedoms, values, ambitions and success rest on that perilous and militarily doomed undertaking of nine decades ago.........”

President McAleese places particular emphasis on the Proclamation and in particular the following section: “The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and all of its parts, cherishing all of the children of the nation equally.....“. The rights of women were enshrined in this document as being no different to the rights of men. These included the right to vote at a time when the British Government were battering the suffragettes off the streets.

Near the end of her speech Mrs McAleese brought the relevance of the Proclamation right up to the present day. “In the hearts of those who took part in the Rising, in what was then an undivided Ireland, was an unshakeable belief that whatever our personal, political or religious perspectives, there was huge potential for an Ireland in which loyalist, republican, unionist, nationalist, Catholic, Protestant, atheist, agnostic, pulled together to build a shared future , owned by one and all.“

Now it seems to me that the sentiments expressed here, whether those from the Proclamation or from the president herself, are entirely admirable and worth aspiring to. Unfortunately not everyone agrees. Since the speech was made, the opinion and letters pages of the newspapers have been crammed with all sorts of views of the speech itself and the events which it recalled. Many contributions have been very supportive of Mrs McAleese but a significant number have taken her to task.

She has been accused of glorifying violence, of being old fashioned, of giving succour to the Provos, of being immature. All of this, of course, is nonsense and it makes me wonder about some of the people we have living on this island. Why do some of us agonise over, and ultimately disown, those men and women who sacrificed life and liberty to give us what freedoms and nationhood we have today, at least in the twenty six counties? Sometimes I think there are some in this country who would prefer if the British were still here lording it over us.

And what about the political parties? Fianna Fáil, having abandoned our dead patriots back in the seventies are now attempting to wrap the green flag around themselves again. Fine Gael think they are the rightful heirs to the legacy of the Rising, but were quite content to go along with the others in discarding our acknowledgement of this strike for freedom. And get this, Labour now want us to include the British soldiers killed during the Rising in any commemoration. Yeah, I’m sure the defenders of Stalingrad, when remembering their heroic stand, will commemorate the masses of German troops who slaughtered tens of thousands of their fellow citizens.

As President McAleese said: “There is a tendency for powerful and pitiless elites to dismiss with damning labels those who oppose them.” This is as true now as it was in 1916. But while these elites and their lackeys in the media rant and rave, a few more words from our president on the brave souls of that Easter long ago: “Their deaths rise far above the clamour - their voices insistent still.”

Tom O’Donoghue

‘It makes me wonder about some of the people we have living on this island’

Today in history: Birmingham Six on verge of freedom

BBC ON THIS DAY

25 February1991


The "Birmingham Six" have always insisted they were innocent

After 17 years in prison, the Birmingham Six could be freed within weeks.

It follows an announcement by the Director of Public Prosecution, Alan Green, that their convictions can no longer be considered safe and satisfactory.

Hugh Callaghan, Patrick Hill, Gerard Hunter, Richard McIlkenny, William Power and John Walker were all jailed in 1975 for an IRA attack on two pubs in Birmingham in November 1974 in which 21 people died.

They have consistently maintained their innocence.

Speaking during a live radio broadcast by Irish broadcaster RTE, one of the six, Hugh Callaghan, spoke about his ordeal.

"It should have happened a long time ago. It has been known for years and years that we were innocent," he said.

Today's preliminary hearing was told both scientific and police evidence presented at the original trial could no longer be relied upon and that therefore the Crown's case against the men had collapsed.

Their third appeal will be heard at the Court of Appeal on Monday, 4 March.

New evidence collected in the past year will be presented to the court, which will make the final decision on whether or not to release the men.

Family joy

Friends, family and supporters were overjoyed by the news.

The Irish government issued a statement saying it shared their relief and joy.

Gareth Pierce, the solicitor for five of the men, said the case was "a national disgrace" and called for the evidence to be made public.

Patsy Power, William Power's wife, said: "It's over and done but the system has to be altered so nothing like this happens again."

Former Master of the Rolls Lord Denning, who rejected the men's appeal in 1980, said he was saddened by the case.

"As I look back I am very sorry, because I always thought that our police were splendid and am very sorry that in this case it appears the contrary," he said.

In Context

The Birmingham Six were released amid scenes of wild jubilation on 14 March 1991 after their convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeal.

Their case - and that of the Guildford Four freed in 1989 - led to the creation of a Royal Commission on Criminal Justice which made various recommendations in 1993.

The six men have struggled to cope with freedom since their release. Several turned to drink and most of their marriages suffered as a result.

Their fight for what they consider adequate compensation for one of Britain's most notorious miscarriages of justice continues.

Patrick Hill set up his own pressure group - Miscarriages of Justice Organisation - and in 2002 said there were up to 4,000 people wrongfully imprisoned in the UK.

In February 1999 Gareth Pierce, a lawyer for five of the six, handed back a CBE awarded to her at the New Years Honours list.

The real Birmingham pub bombers have not been prosecuted.

Up to £200,000 stolen in Belfast bank raid

RTÉ

24 February 2006 22:32

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us Police in Northern Ireland are investigating a bank robbery in Belfast in which up to £200,000 was stolen.

Police were alerted to the robbery at Carlisle Circus at around 10am today.

It is understood that a family member of an employee at the Ulster Bank was held hostage during the raid.

At this stage police sources cannot confirm whether there had been any paramilitary involvement.

Inherent ambivalence towards loyalist violence must be challenged - Philip McGuigan

Sinn Féin

Published: 24 February, 2006

Commenting on the case of three Co Antrim Loyalists who were today jailed for pointing a rifle at motorists, and who had previously escaped sentencing, Sinn Féin MLA for North Antrim Phillip McGuigan has today said:

"The initial decision will no doubt reinforce the notion amongst many people that there is an inherent tolerance of violent loyalism and ambivalence towards their actions. It is only a few short months since the nationalist community of North Antrim came under an orchestrated and sustained attack from loyalist thugs in the area." ENDS

Local author pens historical biography

Rolla Daily News

**Please see also The Wild Geese

J Lynn Haslag
Friday, February 24, 2006 8:09 AM CST

Author Jack Morgan will be signing copies of his new book entitled “Through American and Irish Wars: The Life and Times of General Thomas W. Sweeny” at 11 a.m. tomorrow, Feb. 25, at the Reader’s Corner, located at 819 N. Pine Street.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us As the title suggests, the book is an historical biography about Thomas Sweeny, an Irish immigrant who played a major part in the opening of the Civil War in St. Louis and Missouri in 1861, and who led an Irish Republican army in an attempt to capture British territory in Canada after the war began.

“He attempted an invasion of Canada as a way of striking British territory where it was closest at hand,” Morgan said, “because to go in ships all the way to Ireland and take on British ships would have been impossible.”

Morgan’s book explains the plan, the attempt, and the reasons why it failed. It also covers Sweeny’s life and his adventures before and during the Civil War, including the journey of his command through Rolla to Springfield, Mo., before the Battle of Wilson’s Creek.

“A lot of the book has to do with the Battle of Wilson’s Creek,” Morgan said.

Though Sweeny was an important figure in Civil War Missouri, before Morgan’s book he was probably best known through the personal memorabilia of physician Tom Sweeney, who owned the General Sweeny Museum in Republic, Mo. until it was purchased last summer by the National Park Service. Located just north of the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield visitor center, the General Sweeny Museum features an extensive collection of rare artifacts and exhibits of civil wars fought west of the Mississippi River.

Morgan has brought the stories of those artifacts together in Sweeny’s biography, the first to be written about the Irish General. Critics have praised Morgan for his contribution to Missouri history and Irish-American Civil War studies, and for putting the Fenian invasion in proper historical context.

Morgan said his interest in American history and Irish immigration provided much of the inspiration for his book.

“My parents were Irish immigrants,” Morgan said. “I was interested in American studies generally, and as an angle of that, immigration, particularly the history of Irish immigration.”

Originally from Hartford, Ct., Morgan has taught American Literature at the University of Missouri-Rolla for more than 30 years. He has previously written two other books, “The Irish Stories of Sarah Orne Jewett” which he co-edited, and “The Biology of Horror: Gothic Literature and Film,” which was published in 2003.

He has also written extensively for scholarly journals over the years, on subjects such as Irish Fenianism, the antagonism between the Catholic Church and Irish Nationalism, and the relationship of these topics to St. Louis.

Morgan plans to continue his work in the area of Irish immigration studies, and is currently working on his next book, entitled “The Fair in Irish Literature and Culture.”

24 February 2006

Paisley Is Still 'Bigoted, Sectarian'

Derry Journal

Friday 24th February 2006

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness told the 'Journal' yesterday that SDLP leader, Mark Durkan is "no John Hume'. And the Mid Ulster M.P. hadn't too many kind words either for DUP leader, Ian Paisley, claiming that the long serving unionist leader was "still just as bigoted, sectarian and opposed to peace as he had always been through his long and negative political career."

The rising temperature of the political debate was only too apparent as Mr. McGuinness claimed that Mr. Durkan had colluded with both the British government and the DUP to exclude his party from talks. "Given the fact that Mark Durkan has whinged about the need for an inclusive process I was very disappointed that he was prepared to collude with the British and the DUP to exclude Sinn Fein. One thing is very clear -he's no John Hume."

The veteran republican was adamant that the process was now at a crucial stage and either there was a return to a devolved Assembly and Executive or the whole thing was shut down and the two governments began a "joint process" to replace it. Stating that he and Gerry Adams would be meeting the Taoiseach on Wednesday and British Prime Minister, Tony Blair on Thursday, Mr. McGuinness said he anticipated very frank discussions. "We are seeking real answers as to where the governments are taking this process. Now is the time for the British to put it up to the DUP. Either they are prepared to do business or they are not. If Paisley is not willing to work with the rest of us then not only should the salaries stop, the Assembly should be abolished and the governments begin a joint process to govern the North."

Mr. McGuinness said it was "make your mind up" time for Mr. Blair. "This week we saw another example of Paisley putting it up to everyone, including Mr. Blair. The whole focus by Paisley and other members of the DUP on long silent IRA guns while they remain silent on murder and violence amongst loyalists is self evidently ridiculous."The big challenge to Mr. Blair and the rest who say they want to restore the institutions is that Sinn Fein needs to be part of that process and it should be made clear that the only people preventing progress are the DUP badly led by Mr. Paisley."

Describing some of the DUP leader's recent utterances as "downright despicable," the Derry man said he regarded his recent comments about Irish president, Mary McAleese, as beyond the pale. "The reason I find it despicable is I think I have a more accurate assessment of what he is really about here: he's worried about the ongoing excellent work President McAleese and her husband Martin are doing in building bridges with loyalism. I think Paisley is attempting to scare off those loyalists who want cordial relationships with the rest of us."

Mr. McGuinness said he put Dr. Paisley's interventions this week on a par with his "sackcloth and ashes" speech in late Autumn last year which scuttled any chance of an agreement between the DUP and Sinn Fein on the possibility of going into government. "I think it will become clear very shortly whether Paisley will do business. The wider unionist community knows a deal needs to be done. I think there is a growing recognition amongst unionists that they are going backwards under the leadership of Dr. No."

Bricklayers released after court breach

RTÉ

24 February 2006 15:05

Three unemployed Dublin bricklayers jailed earlier this month for contempt of court have been freed after giving an undertaking not to picket buildings sites operated by a construction firm.

The three men, Keith Kelly, Billy McClurg and Andrew Clarke, today told Miss Justice Mary Lafoy that they would not picket sites operated by Collen Construction.

The three men were previously jailed after refusing to give such an undertaking.
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Miss Justice Lafoy said the three men had learned a lesson that the court orders must be obeyed. Speaking afterwards all three men said they would be signing on the dole on Monday.

The men had originally been brought to court earlier this month after picketing a site in Ballybrack where they had sought work. The men claimed they had been refused work because of their union membership.

Morrow Slams UUP 'Trail Of Tears'

News Letter

Friday 24th February 2006

THE DUP does not need advice from Ulster Unionists on how to negotiate with Sinn Fein, party chairman Maurice Morrow has said. The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA hit back at comments made by Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey criticising the stance of the DUP in this week's talks.

Elsewhere in these pages, Sir Reg illustrates what he believes are huge inconsistencies in DUP policy, but Mr Morrow insisted that he and his party needed no help in negotiating a return to devolved government in Northern Ireland. "The UUP is in no position to offer advice on handling the republican movement given their history," he said. "Their track record in talks is a trail of tears for unionism and one that no self-respecting unionist would wish to follow. "Negotiations in which unionism was led by the Ulster Unionist party were hallmarked by Sinn Fein being put into the Province's government while the IRA remained involved in criminality and terrorism and UUP acquiescence or even agreement to a whole host of concessions to republicans. "By being unflinching in our stand that there can be no place for the representatives of republican terror and criminality in the government of Northern Ireland, the Government and republicans know that the days of pushover unionism are over for ever. "There will be no return to the days when the UUP simply rolled over and gave in to Sinn Fein/IRA. Through establishing devolution on such a shoddy basis, the UUP doomed Northern Ireland to failure. Again, on this issue - as in others - the DUP is determined not to follow the example set by the UUP. "Rather than advising the DUP to confront Sinn Fein, Reg Empey and the UUP should begin to confront the fact that their style of negotiations was a complete and utter disaster for unionism."

Warning over Love Ulster parade disruption

BN.ie

24/02/2006 - 11:56:18

Shoppers were today warned to expect major traffic disruption in Dublin as the Love Ulster parade moves into the city.

Unionist politicians, Orangemen, loyalist bands and victims of IRA violence plan to march through Dublin city centre from midday tomorrow.

Gardai warned motorists to expect traffic disruption as the parade kicks off at 12.30pm at Parnell Square North before moving down O’Connell Street, Lower Grafton Street, Dawson Street and ending in Molesworth Street.

Officers, who will be out in force to ensure the event is not marred by disturbances, expect the parade to end at around 2pm.

Earlier this week, Foreign Affair Minister Dermot Ahern said the Government hoped the parade would pass off peacefully.

Before Tuesday’s meeting with Parades Commission chairman Roger Poole in Dublin, he said: “It’s a free country. We hope it passes off peacefully like many of the parades in Northern Ireland and doesn’t lead to difficulties for the public.”

Mr Ahern said issues surrounding all contentious parades could be resolved through patient dialogue. The minister said the vast majority of uncontested parades in the North pass off peacefully, like in Derry, which he said offers a very positive example.

Omagh bomb relatives outraged by MI5 revelations

BN.ie

24/02/2006 - 12:21:45

Relatives of the victims of the Omagh bombing have expressed outrage at the revelation that the British spy agency MI5 had been warned of a possible attack in the town, but failed to tell the RUC.

Officers reviewing the initial investigation into the atrocity have discovered email evidence that an American paid by MI5 and the FBI to infiltrate the Real IRA had warned that the group was planning to bomb the Co Tyrone town.

However, the warning from David Rupert, whose evidence led to the conviction and jailing of Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt, was never passed to police on the ground.

Michael Gallagher, whose 21-year-old son Aidan was killed in the Omagh attack, said today: "At best, this is criminal negligence, at worst, it's assisting a terrorist murder plot."

Mr Gallagher said the revelations reinforced the need for a cross-border public inquiry to establish the full truth about Omagh.

"It must be thorough, comprehensive and impartial to find out exactly what happened and who should be held responsible for any failings," he said.

MI5 'kept police in dark over Omagh bomb'

Evening Echo

24/02/2006 - 09:56:41

MI5 withheld vital anti-terrorism intelligence just months before the Omagh bomb atrocity, it was revealed today.

Although the agency helped thwart an attack planned on the Co Tyrone town or Derry at the time of the signing of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, it kept police in the North in the dark about the bomb plot, according to authoritative security sources.

Even after the outrage which killed 29 people, MI5 failed to inform Special Branch of the threat, and details have only just emerged as part of an investigation into an FBI agent who infiltrated the Real IRA, the dissident republican group, which carried out the attack.

Relatives of some of the Omagh dead said today they were astonished by the disclosure, and with MI5 preparing next year to take control of national security intelligence in the North, one MP called on Downing Street to abandon its plan.

SDLP leader Mark Durkan said: “Allowing MI5 to have a lead role in intelligence in Northern Ireland would be like appointing Herod as childrens’ commissioner.”

Michael Gallagher, whose son Aidan, 21, was among those killed, said: “At best, this is criminal negligence. At worst, it’s assisting a terrorist murder plot.”

Three dissident republicans were arrested and later released without charge at the time of the foiled April 1998 bomb plot.

It followed an MI5 tip-off involving American FBI agent David Rupert, who was working undercover in the ranks of the Real IRA, warning that Omagh or Derry - but most likely Omagh – was to be hit by a dissident republican unit based in Fermanagh and the Letterkenny area of neighbouring Co Donegal.

The car containing a mortar bomb was never found, although it is believed the device may have been the same as one used in an attack on security forces in the border town of Belleek, Co Fermanagh, three weeks later.

At the time, the Royal Ulster Constabulary was aware that a planned terrorist operation had been disrupted, but according to authoritative security sources today, police found no trace on their records of any MI5 intelligence that Omagh, or Derry, was going to be a target.

Details emerged after inquiries in the United States where detectives investigating Omagh spoke with Rupert and examined emails which the agent once exchanged with his FBI and MI5 handlers.

It was Rupert’s evidence to a court in Dublin in 2003 which helped convict the Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt, who was jailed for 20 years for directing terrorism.

Police in the Irish Republic are not being blamed for holding back on any information linked to the failed bomb plot, four-and-a-half months before Omagh was attacked in August 1998 by a gang based in south Armagh and Co Louth.

But there is serious unease among security chiefs about MI5’s handling of the affair.

It is understood the agency also failed to inform two senior UK police officers called in by the Northern Ireland Policing Board and the Police Service of Northern Ireland to quality-assure a new investigation after the initial one came in for such fierce criticism by Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan.

Mr Gallagher said today’s revelation would heighten the pressure on the British and Irish governments to set up a full cross-border independent inquiry.

He said: “MI5 is considered one of the top intelligence agencies in the world and had their finger very much on the pulse, yet they failed to notify the RUC that Omagh was a chosen target of a very active terrorist group.”

Mr Gallagher, who met British prime minister Tony Blair in Downing Street last month, added: “There must be a cross-border pulic inquiry to establish a truthful account of all events surrounding Omagh.

“It must be thorough, comprehensive and impartial to find out exactly what happened and who should be held responsible for any failings. It is only then that the families can begin to heal.”

The Omagh relatives are pressing ahead with a High Court civil action seeking £14m (€21m) compensation against the five men they blame for the bombing.

Next September the trial is due to begin of Sean Hoey, 36, from south Armagh, who has denied murdering the 29 people. The case is expected to last six months.

Last week Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain introduced a Bill in the House of Commons which would give MI5 the lead role in handling agents and informers from 2007 – a move heavily criticised by the SDLP and Sinn Féin.

Nationalists claim the agency’s new role also undermines policing reforms because it will not face the scrutiny of the Policing Board.

Mr Durkan said: “This latest revelation underscores the case that MI5 cannot be trusted to work in the true public interest, or relied upon to cooperate properly with other authorities.

“This also highlights MI5’s culture of intelligence for its own sake, used and handled for its own ends rather than through lawful democratic public interest.”

A spokeswoman for the chief constable, Hugh Orde, said that over the next two years, police would work to ensure that proper systems existed between MI5 and the PSNI to disseminate intelligence between both organisations.

She said: “That preparatory work will continue right up until 2007 and will take into consideration lessons learnt from the past.

“The Chief Constable is already on record as saying that he will not sign up to any arrangement that does not have his complete confidence.”

Murdered woman 'hidden for months'


Telegraph


**Via Newshound

By Tom Peterkin, Ireland Correspondent
(Filed: 23/02/2006)

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us Police believe that the body of a 25-year-old woman murdered a year ago may have been hidden for several months before being dumped at sea.

Lisa Dorrian, a shop assistant, has not been seen since she left a party at a seaside caravan park a few miles from her home in Bangor, Co Down.

Her body has never been found, despite a campaign for information led by her family.

Some suspect that loyalist paramilitaries were involved in her murder. Last week graffiti identifying a suspect was daubed on walls.

It named one of the last men to see her alive and said: "Tell the police where Lisa's body is and live."

The Dorrian family have erected billboards appealing for help, set up a confidential website and offered a £10,000 reward last year for information.

At a press conference held a few days before the first anniversary of her death on Feb 28 last year, the Police Service of Northern Ireland announced that a new theory was being investigated. It is thought that Lisa's body was hidden for four months before being moved between June 27 and Aug 4.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Police believe that her body was then taken out to sea in a 17ft long orange-red boat and dumped.

Det Supt George Hamilton said: "We now believe that Lisa's body was moved from an original location.

"We believe this original location was on land, possibly in a building, an outhouse or a derelict shed."

The police service is anxious to find the body's original hiding place to conduct a forensic search.

Det Supt Hamilton urged those close to the people responsible to "search their own consciences and not allow misguided or misplaced loyalty to hinder the investigation or to prevent this family getting the least that they deserve, and that is the recovery of Lisa's body for burial".

Det Supt Hamilton was joined by members of Lisa's family including her younger sister Joanna (photo: above right), who made a plea for information.

Bloody Sunday families will get prior notification

Newshound

(Seamus McKinney, Irish News)

The Bloody Sunday inquiry has confirmed that it will notify "interested parties" in advance of submitting its final report to the secretary of state.

The announcement is the first indication that the publication of the report – expected some time this year – is drawing close.

Lord Saville's team completed the main body of evidence gathering in November 2004 and it was initially hoped the tribunal would publish its report last year.

But due to the huge quantity of evidence, the inquiry was unable to do so and was also unable to state a date for publication.

As the Saville Inquiry was established by parliament, the final report will be handed over to the Northern Ireland secretary who is then expected to publish it.

Earlier this year, John Kelly, whose brother Michael (17) was shot dead, complained that the Bloody Sunday families were not being given any information about the progress of the report.

A spokeswoman for the inquiry yesterday (Wednesday) confirmed that the families and other interested parties (former soldiers etc) would be given substantial notification before the report was handed over to the secretary of state.

February 24, 2006
________________

This article appeared first in the February 23, 2006 edition of the Irish News.

I can't see why they would move Finucane goalposts

Belfast Telegraph

Justice Peter Cory tells Chris Thornton why he's upset with the handling of Pat Finucane's murder inquiry - and how a secret agent's drugs hunting past ended up delaying the probe into Rosemary Nelson's death

24 February 2006

You don't get to be a judge, never mind a Justice of the Canadian Supreme Court, without understanding a little about fine distinctions.

So the Honourable Peter Cory sat earlier this week, patiently explaining why he disagrees with the Government about the murder of Pat Finucane, but can't say they are wrong.

Or why he has no regrets about investigating the case, but might not do it again if he had life to live over.

At issue is the Government's response to Justice Cory's recommendation - made over two years ago - that public inquiries should be held into possible collusion in the murders of Mr Finucane, Rosemary Nelson, LVF leader Billy Wright, Portadown man Robert Hamill and RUC Superintendents Bob Buchanan and Harry Breen.

Most are proceeding. The superintendents' inquiry is due to open shortly in the Republic, and three of the others have formally opened in Northern Ireland.

The thorny one remains the Finucane murder. Justice Cory knows more than most about this 1989 UDA murder, it being the most high profile of the six cases he spent a year and a half looking over.

The major reason for the delay - and for editing out, or redacting, sections of the Cory report - is the Government's contention that national security issues are at play in the Finucane case.

Justice Cory says that, based on what he knows, he disagrees. But back in Northern Ireland this week to deliver a lecture at Queen's, he was also careful to say that the Government has not filled him in on what their security concerns are.

"Personally do I agree with it? No," he said. "Do I find it frustrating? Yes. It must be doubly frustrating for the family. Is it a correct decision or not? I cannot tell you.

"It's just one of those difficult situations. Who's at fault? I don't know because I haven't got facts from the Government side as to why it would be necessary that this now involves matters of state security and as a result we're not going to do this.

"I do not know because I cannot get behind at this stage and see why is it a matter of state security.

"A government obviously knows far more about aspects of state security than I do," he said. "As I've said, I disagreed with their decision with regard to redaction and I may well have disagreed with their opinion with regard to state security.

"But I have to emphasise I'm not in the position of the Government to know what is necessary to protect state security, so I have a difficult position as far as answering because I haven't all the facts.

"You can't judge a situation until you have all the facts and you explore them and test them and decide what is right and true. I don't have all the facts on that aspect. On the surface, I disagree with the decision, that's all."

He added: "All I can say is that I differ with their opinion on the basis of what I saw. I'm not going to say over-cautious or any other danged expression.

"I differed with them on what I saw, whether it constituted a matter of state security or not."

The Finucane case has become a stalemate. To protect the unspecified national security concerns, the Government passed legislation that gives Ministers direct control over evidence.

The Finucane family has opposed an inquiry under these terms, but Secretary of State Peter Hain says it is this way or no way. So far he has been unable to find a judge who will take the inquiry on.

Justice Cory says the Government is trying to "change the goalposts". While he says he was "upset" at that decision, he does not have "a damn bit of regret".

"It was a job to be done and it's damn well done and it's finished. Do I regret it? No. It had to be done and perhaps shed some light on an unfortunate situation.

"I was asked to do it. I did it to the best of my ability. I made the recommendations I did. I stand behind those recommendations."

During his review of information about the Finucane murder, Justice Cory got unprecedented access to Cabinet papers referring to the killing. That revelation fed speculation that repercussions for the murder went all the way to Downing Street.

But Justice Cory says he does not remember "anything of tremendous significance in the Cabinet papers as compared to papers I got from other people".

He says it is "wonderful" that other inquiries are proceeding, adding that he is "responsible for a couple of months of delay" in the Rosemary Nelson case.

"What was happening was that I was asked to keep some very sensitive material secure," he said.

"My way of keeping it secure for a number of reasons was to take it personally to the Canadian High Commissioner and say 'take that in your security pouch back to Canada and file it with CSIS', our security agency. And that's what they did.

"Now then it came time when the (Nelson) commissioner wanted to see those papers. I'd given the opinion that they were sensitive but they didn't affect my decision.

"But of course he wants to explore the background. And it took me a while to get them back from CSIS.

"And it involves this: the agent who took them there, who stored them for CSIS has now retired.

"They don't want him pinpointed as an agent of CSIS or a CSIS person involved as he was with significant drug crime.

"So it had to be done carefully and slowly. So when you're looking at Rosemary Nelson, charge all three months of the delay with me. And I'm not a dang bit sorry."

Ludlow family seek answers over dropping of charges

Belfast Telegraph

By Michael McHugh
24 February 2006

The family of Co Louth loyalist murder victim Seamus Ludlow may write to the Irish Director of Public Prosecutions to find out why the decision to prosecute four suspects was dropped.

Mr Ludlow's nephew Jimmy Sharkey said he was encouraged by recent news the DPP in the Republic is reviewing a policy of not giving reasons for his decisions and is to discuss the development with his lawyer.

The victim was shot dead by north Down loyalists in May 1976 close to his Dundalk home after being picked up in a car. Four suspects were quizzed by the RUC in 1998, but the Ulster DPP decided not to prosecute. Counterparts in the Republic concurred with the decision.

"We would be keen to get as much information as we can about the case," Mr Sharkey said.

"We have our suspicions about why the case was dropped but we would like some answers from the DPP.

"Two of those questioned made admissions of involvement, although they contradicted each other, and we know that cases have been taken in the past on the basis of admissions."

There have been a string of inquiries into the killing after the original 1976 Garda investigation failed to yield results.

The Irish parliament's justice committee is considering alleged failings in the police's handling of the matter, based on a review by Irish Justice Henry Barron, made public last year.

Investigating officer Superintendent John Courtney says he requested permission to interview suspects named by the RUC in 1979 but was refused authority to go north.

Police probe links between £50m heist and Belfast raid

Irish Independent

Jason Bennetto
24 February 2006

DETECTIVES in Britain are investigating possible links between a record £50m (€73m) cash heist in Kent and the Northern Bank raid in Belfast.

Both raids bore remarkable similarities.

They were carried out with military precision; both involved the kidnapping of family members of high-level staff with access to keys; and police believe both took place with "inside" help.

A record £2m reward was offered yesterday for the recovery of the banknotes and capture of the raiders who carried out the heist at the Securitas cash warehouse in Tonbridge, Kent on Wednesday.

The gang were described as a team of "top-level" criminals and Kent Police said yesterday they feared some of them may have already fled to Europe via the Channel Tunnel.

Assistant chief constable Adrian Leppard said an alert had gone out to all points of entry, footage from CCTV was being examined, and police forces abroad had been contacted in the hunt for the gang.

He also said Kent Police were in contact with police in the North to investigate links with the £26m Northern Bank robbery in Belfast in 2004.

Staff at the Securitas warehouse are being investigated by police who believe the robbers almost certainly had "inside" help in the raid.

The gang took between £25m and £50m in cash.

Two people - a man and a woman - were arrested last night in connection with the robbery. They were being held at undisclosed police stations and will be questioned today on suspicion of conspiracy to commit robbery.

Rafferty sisters to meet Bush on St Patrick’s Day

BN.ie

24/02/2006 - 07:42:36

The family of murdered Dublin man Joseph Rafferty will reportedly be invited to meet US President George W Bush at the White House on St Patrick's Day.

Mr Rafferty, a 29-year-old father-of-one, was shot dead last April in the Ongar housing estate in west Dublin as part of a family feud.

His sisters claim he was killed by a former member of the IRA and want Sinn Féin to pressure the man into giving himself up.

They have already mounted a campaign for justice inspired by the sisters of murdered Belfast man Robert McCartney.

The McCartneys, who met Mr Bush at the White House on St Patrick's Day last year, also claim an IRA man was behind their brothers' killing and have accused the republican movement of doing nothing to help bring those responsible to justice.

Amnesty slams Irish response to CIA flights investigation

BN.ie

23/02/2006 - 17:34:54

The Government is being of accused of failing to respond properly to an investigation by the Council of Europe into CIA flights.

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, and Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern have consistently quoted US diplomatic assurances that prisoners have never been transported through Shannon Airport for torture in other countries.

However, Amnesty International says this stance is not credible, is insufficient and is lacking in detail.

Spokesperson Fiona Crowley said this afternoon that the Council of Europe needs more information from Ireland.

“Amnesty would be disappointed that Ireland has responded to this formal questionnaire to the Council of Europe stating that it has fully met its obligations simply by relying on the assurances from the US government.

“We’re also concerned at the lack of detail in the Government’s response and we don’t believe that the information supplied in its response is sufficient to allow the Secretary General of the Council of Europe to make a full and thorough assessment of whether Ireland is in fact meeting its obligations,” she said.

Protesters call for outlawing of puppy farms

BN.ie

23/02/2006 - 18:53:40

Up to 50 animal-rights activists tonight picketed the Dáil to call for dog-breeding regulations to outlaw puppy farms.

The protest was organised by Dog Training Ireland and supported by the ISPCA, the Irish Kennel Club, The Dogs Trust and the National Stray Dogs and Cats Forum.

A petition containing over 2,500 signatures was delivered to Minister for the Environment Dick Roche.

The protestors want the Control of Dogs Act 1986 to be amended to regulate dog breeding.

“There are currently no protections for dogs which are used for mass breeding,” a spokesperson for Dog Training Ireland said.

“These dogs are being used for profits in the cruellest way.”

Former minister for the environment Martin Cullen set up a working group on the issue in 2003.

However, the group failed to agree on the best form of regulation and Mr Roche ordered an additional period of public consultation.

Mr Roche’s spokesman added: “The minister is considering new proposals and will make a decision as soon as possible. He agrees that regulation is needed in the sector.”

The Dog Training Ireland spokesperson added: “Many dogs and puppies continue to suffer and die in appalling conditions on Irish puppy farms.”

Sides hopeful after post meeting

BBC


Postal workers' representatives met with Royal Mail

The postal workers union and Royal Mail have held what they have both described as "constructive" talks on Thursday.

The meeting took place after the Communications Workers Union said it had authorised a ballot of its members in Belfast on official strike action.

Afterwards, a union representative said that he was hopeful enough progress had been made to avoid a ballot being held.

Royal Mail said both parties "are equally resolved to moving forward". More talks are expected on Friday.

"It was a constructive meeting and we have made good progress on selecting a third party to look at employee and industrial relations within Royal Mail in Belfast," the company said.

Thursday's talks had been arranged at the end of the unofficial strike action by postal workers.

Workers at Royal Mail's depot at Tomb Street in Belfast began an unofficial strike on 31 January after staff alleged harassment by managers.

Royal Mail denied the claims.

The strike ended on 17 February when Royal Mail reached an agreement with the Communication Workers Union.

The Communications Workers Union had accused Royal Mail of going back on the deal struck last week to end the unofficial industrial action.

CWU spokesperson Eoin Davey said Royal Mail were refusing to give unlimited overtime to workers who were out on strike.

He claimed that postal workers who were out on strike were being "victimised" and "treated differently" from their work colleagues who did not join the action.

In a statement on Thursday, the company said it still had not been informed that any ballot was taking place.

Gary Crawford, director of personnel for Royal Mail in Northern Ireland, said on Thursday: "As far as we are concerned, we are getting on with the business of what we agreed to do."

23 February 2006

US Feared Irish Civil War After Bloody Sunday - Documents Reveal

Derry Journal

Tuesday 21st February 2006

Following the murder of 14 people on the streets of Derry in 1972, the US government was warned by its Dublin embassy staff that civil war was looming should the Americans fail to put pressure on the British Government to change its Ireland policy. White House and US State Department papers released this week from February 1972 state that the warning from embassy staff to the American administration argued US national interests could suffer if the conflict in Ireland evolved into all out warfare. Embassy staff feared Britain would be forced to withdraw troops from NATO duties and reassign them to Ireland. This opinion was formed when political relations between Ireland and England were at their lowest ebb. The English embassy had been burned by protestors following deaths of 13 of the Bloody Sunday victims.

"The sober view," stated the American Embassy report as recorded in US State Department papers released this week, "of people in the government here and of most of the diplomatic corps - including ourselves and members of the British mission is that the present course of events on this island, if not modified by a change in British policy, runs a grave risk of leading to civil war, or at least further bloodshed..." The British were forced to react to the growing US unrest over the question of Ireland following the massacre in Derry. Britain, through National Foreign Secretary Alec Douglas-Home, informed the White House that: "If the majority of Northern Ireland wanted reunification then we should gladly accept but two thirds of the population remain absolutely opposed."

Veteran journalist and civil rights campaigner Eamon McCann, after studying the recently declassified papers said: "It is interesting to note that after 30 years of conflict and over 3000 deaths that the British Government position in relation to Northern Ireland hasn't changed. "I find it interesting," said McCann that, "the response of the British Government was to reiterate the majority rule proposal. These papers in effect confirm the British were saying they had no commitment in principle to the union. So even after 30 years of troubles and the Good Friday Agreement, the basic British position remains the same."

The report also noted that the US government had no basis to intervene in the domestic affairs of another country. However The American position on Northern Ireland Mr. McCann commented was one of pure self-interest, serving only their own national security issues. The report to Washington further stated: "If this present course is not altered and this island becomes convulsed, it is difficult to predict which sort of Dublin Government would emerge in the aftermath, with significant consequences for ourselves, the EEC and Western Europe. "Finally," concluded the document, "we think that our government would wish to say it did not stand by unconcernedly as Ireland headed toward bloodshed."

Greysteel Victims' Families Deserve The Truth - Says Councillor

Derry Journal

Tuesday 21st February 2006

A Greysteel Sinn Féin councillor has said new claims in relation to loyalist killer, Torrens Knight have come as a "terrible blow" to the families of his victims. Councillor John McElhinney was reacting to allegations that Knight was a paid RUC Special Branch informer when he participated in two mass killings, at Castlerock, where five workmen died and at Greysteel, where seven people were gunned down in the Rising Sun bar.

It was also alleged recently that following his release from prison under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, Knight, from Macosquin, had been put back on the police payroll. Colr. McElhinney said: "I am disgusted to learn of allegations that Torrens Knight had been paid to murder nationalists, however, I am not surprised as everyone knows of the collusion that has been going on for years between the so-called security forces and unionist paramilitaries. "My heart goes out to my neighbours in Greysteel and to the relatives of people murdered and injured in other attacks carried out by this gang." Colr. McElhinney said that the families and those affected by the killings had been trying to come to terms with the atrocities for many years, and added: "To be told that one of the killers was paid by government forces is a hurtful and terrible blow." He went on: "What bothers me most is the question, how many murders was this man involved in that we don't know about?" Calling for a full investigation into the matter, Colr. McElhinney added: "Questions must be asked about the role of the PSNI Special Branch in this whole stinking business. "The families of the victims of collusion deserve to know the full facts of how their loved ones were murdered."

Martin McGuinness challenges advocates of selection At 11 during Youth Parliament address

Sinn Féin

Published: 23 February, 2006

Sinn Féin MP and former Education Minister Martin McGuinness this morning addressed a session of the Youth parliament in the City Hall in Belfast. Mr McGuinness spoke on the plans for post primary reform in a session also addressed by leading advocate of selection Ken Bloomfield.

In the course of a wide ranging address Mr McGuinness challenged head on the arguments being put forward by those supporting academic selection at 11. He used international examples of good practice to put forward his vision of an education system which delivers for all children.

"The changes proposed in our education system will, with proper planning and effective implementation, have an immediate and positive effect. Of course one of the greatest obstacles to the delivery of a first class education system is the availability of adequate resources and money. That is a difficulty which every department and aspect of the public sector faces. But setting that aside for the minute, if we look at the inherent flaws in the system itself, rather than the impact of outside factors, we cannot but conclude that academic selection, its negative impact at every level of our education system and the consequent inequality and additional segregation it generates is the single greatest flaw in our current arrangements and I welcome its long over due demise.

"The mush disliked 11+ and academic selection are inextricably linked. The sole reason for the 11+ is to provide a means of academic selection for grammar schools. The reason why parents, teachers and pupils feel under such pressure and children feel failures has little to do with the 11+ and everything to do with getting a place in a grammar school. The issue is not simply about the injustice of the test thought in my view that is in itself a massive issue. Branding any child a failure at the age of 11 is an indictment of any modern society. Branding the majority of our children as failures at age 11 is entirely unacceptable as is the creation of an academic elite. The reality is that academic selection for the minority means academic rejection for the majority. Academic selection crates an education system based on academic apartheid.

"The supporters of the current system, or some less offensive version of it, have peddled three key myths to support their position. I want to tackle those myths directly. The cold facts do not support the myths that we have a world-class education system, or that academic selection is a ladder to success for working class children, or that grammar schools are an essential route for entry to higher education and university. The first myth is that we have a world-class education system. Yes we do have a high proportion of pupils achieving good examination results, but Scotland has as many pupils as we do achieving 5+ GCSEs at A*-C and markedly more young people entering higher education. England has more pupils achieving 5 GCSE passes and we still have the highest proportion of children with low qualifications in these islands.

"In the key areas of reading, maths and science we perform on a par with England and Scotland but we perform substantially worse than the top performers - Finland, Korea, New Zealand and Canada - all of which have non-selective education systems. And critically, the variation between our best and worst scores is among the widest in the world, highlighting again the recurring theme of an education system with high achievement and substantial low achievement - a system that does well for some and does not deliver for the rest.

"The second myth holds that academic selection provides a ladder for "more able" children - and I take issue with that very offensive term - from disadvantaged backgrounds. Recent statistic show that only 8% of pupils in grammar schools are from low-income families and the proportion has been falling over recent years. If this is a ladder it is an extremely narrow one!

"More advantaged pupils are over 4 times as likely to achieve a grade A in the 11+ as the most disadvantaged pupils. This hardly supports the case for academic selection as an escape route from poverty through education.

"The poorest results in the 11+ are seen in controlled schools with high levels of free school meals serving working class Protestant areas. In some working class Protestant areas a grammar school place is beyond the reach of almost all pupils - in the Shankill for example, less than 2% of pupils achieved a grammar school place.

"The system is not serving the working classes and it is certainly not serving children from working class Protestant families. It is hardly surprising that some community activists have questioned the position of

Unionist Assembly Members representing Protestant areas who appear to be content with a system of academic selection that denies educational opportunities to their own constituents. And I would ask the question - by taking this position are they really representing the best interests of the children in their constituencies?

"The third myth that we hear so often is that a grammar school education is necessary to get to university and get a good job. Traditionally grammar schools have indeed been the main providers of university entrants. More recently, however only about 50% of students at the University of Ulster have traditional A-levels and the rest come from a variety of routes. Significantly, the university found no difference in academic outcome irrespective of the route students have taken to reach university. Queen's University has many students who do not come via the traditional A-level route and they include some of the universities best students.

"The reality is that academic segregation, like other forms of social segregation is not something any modern society should tolerate, much less encourage. The entire concept of academic selection is based on notions of intelligence measurement, which have been largely discounted and discredited. Indeed Cyril Burt, the primary architect of the Butler Education Act of 1944, which created the 11+, has recently been exposed as a fraud and a charlatan. The flaw in his attitude to children and their education should have been obvious in the title of his seminal work published in 1937 - "The Backward Child". IN my view, the only thing backward in our education system is not the children but a system which brands the majority of 11 year olds as failures. That is wrong and the sooner we replace it the better." ENDS

No 1916 invite for British soldiers

Irish Independent

Senan Molony
Political Correspondent

THERE are no plans to invite British soldiers to the military parade marking the 90th Anniversary of the 1916 Rising, sources closed to Defence Minister Willie O'Dea made clear yesterday.

But the British military attache is expected to be invited to a State reception to be held in Dublin Castle on the night of the parade in limited acknowledgment of the adversaries faced by the volunteers of Easter week.

The decision not to seek any visible British involvement beyond diplomatic protocol has been taken on the basis that the parade "will be about remembering and honouring the men and women of 1916".

Last year, French dignitaries were invited to the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, with French warships joining a celebration fleet in The Solent and in recent years, German politicians have been formally invited to attend D-Day ceremonies.

Yesterday, Fianna Fail Senator Martin Mansergh clashed with Labour deputy leader, Liz McManus on the question of honouring all the dead of the Rising, including civilians and British casualties.

Senator Mansergh asked if it was being suggested that a statue should be erected of General Maxwell, the British officer commanding, who accepted Pearse's surrender and imposed martial law on the city. He pointed out that the 50 civilian victims of the fighting had all been killed by British soldiers.

Couple ordered to pay maintenance for abandoned child Tristan

BN.ie

23/02/2006 - 13:05:42



A four-year-old Indonesian child abandoned by his adoptive parents is to receive monthly maintenance payments from them and compensation of €45,000, it emerged today.

Tristan Dowse was adopted in 2001 at the age of two months by Joe Dowse, an accountant from Wicklow, and his Azerbaijan-born wife. The couple returned the boy to an orphanage in Jakarta two years later on the grounds that the adoption was not working out.

At the High Court in Dublin, Judge John MacMenamin said the couple had failed in their duty under the Constitution to provide and care for their son, Tristan.

He ordered that Tristan’s adoption should be struck off the Register of Foreign Adoptions held by the Irish Adoption Board and that Suryani, his natural mother, should be appointed his sole legal guardian.

He ordered the Dowses to pay an immediate lump sum of €20,000 to Tristan and a further lump sum of €25,000 when he reached the age of 18.

The couple will also have to pay maintenance of €350 per month until he is 18 years of age. Judge MacMenamin ordered that Tristan be made a ward of court, should remain an Irish citizen and enjoy all the rights to the estate of the Dowses as if he had remained their lawful child.

In his judgement on the case, Judge MacMenamin recounted how Tristan only spoke English when he was placed back in the orphanage by the Dowses and cried constantly. The judge referred to a form signed by the Dowses at the time of the original adoption in which they wrote that they wished to raise Tristan as if he was their own flesh and blood.

“What occurred is difficult to reconcile with that statement. It is hard to conceive the effect which these traumatic changes must have had on the young child,” said Judge MacMenamin.

He said the facts in the case were largely undisputed. “The court found that there was clearly a breach of the constitutional duty owed to Tristan by his parents,” he said.

He presided over two judgements in relation to the adoption and abandonment of Tristan, one between the attorney general and the Dowses and the other between the Dowses and the adoption board.

The Dowses were not present in court for the judgement but their family solicitor, Gus Cullen, said they were satisfied with the decision. He added that the couple would comply with the court’s order to provide for their son.

Sinn Fein displays 'camera list'

BBC

Sinn Fein has claimed that a weather-beaten document in their possession is evidence of ongoing British army spying south Armagh.

The document was said to have been found by a farmer in two weeks ago.

The party claimed the paper was a guide to cameras based at Faughil mountain near the Carrickdale Hotel.

Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy said the community was "outraged, particularly the Dromintee GAA club, as the document showed it was being monitored".

'Not used'

Mr Murphy said the document was titled "R21M Pathfinder Camera Reference Guide" and "may have been left by a foot patrol".

He said that although the document said some cameras were not being used, it gave the names of a number of local people.

Mr Murphy said Sinn Fein would be challenging Prime Minister Tony Blair about "ongoing military activity" at a meeting next week.

He welcomed the "beginning of movement" on the removal of "spy posts" but said people still "had frustrations".

Axed

Irelandclick

**How can it possibly be legal for a company to NOT pay workers for time already worked? As this company is US owned, cannot pressure be applied in that direction as well?

76 people out of work as TriVirix announces devastating jobs cuts

Damian McCarney

Anger gripped the staff of a Springfield Road company yesterday as management made 76 employees redundant with immediate effect.

A further 37 jobs remain under threat as the future for the medical device supplier, US-owned firm TriVirix International, looks perilous.

On Monday it was announced that the firm had gone into administration and yesterday afternoon the court-appointed administrator from Deloitte & Touche told approximately three quarters of the staff that they were out of a job.

As the staff filtered out of the building for the last time, some tearfully embraced as others milled about, bitter and angry at the company’s refusal to pay their wages in full.

It is understood that staff will only receive wages from the time that the administrator took control of the company. This means that staff who receive weekly pay will lose out on three days’ pay, while monthly-paid staff will miss out on three weeks’ pay.

Frank Fitzsimmons, a senior team leader with Trivirix, was disgusted at the announcement.

“This is absolutely ridiculous to have got to this stage and wages will not be going into the bank. People are depending on them and have to pay their mortgages.

“We are not getting our lying week, the week we worked, and holiday pay.”
A Trivirix senior manager, Jonathan Lowry, said that he had participated in bringing a substantial payment from a customer in the belief that the payment would be used for payment of salaries.

“A customer paid £201,000 up front in a cash payment. We believed that this would be used to secure salaries for everybody.

“We have been treated very badly – we have been kept in the dark for the last month. I am extremely disappointed to have put so much into getting the payment in.”

Sinn Féin West Belfast MLA Michael Ferguson said that the British government had failed in its responsibilities to both staff and the public.

“The government should underwrite the salary entitlements of the workforce that have been made redundant today, and they should work with the administrator and workers to protect this skills base and find another purchaser,” urged Mr Ferguson.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said he has spoken to the British Direct Rule Minister Angela Smith about the job losses and called on the British government and Invest NI to intervene.

“The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment along with Invest NI need to honour their responsibilities to the workforce, to West Belfast and indeed to the public at large.

“The British government and Invest NI need to work with the administrator and provide investment to sustain the plant and support the employees until a new owner can be found.

“If the direct rule administration is serious about regeneration in disadvantaged areas, then we must see a significant intervention now.”

Journalist:: Damien McCarney

Post strike: more action is possible

Irelandclick

by Roisin McManus

Postal workers are seriously considering further industrial action, according to a member of the Communications Workers Union.

A report is being sent to the Communications Workers Union headquarters requesting that a ballot on industrial action takes place.

Eoin Davey, Branch Secretary of the Communications Workers Union (CWU), said that postal workers are still unhappy.

Postal workers began unofficial strike action at the end of January amid allegations of bullying. The action ended last weekend.

“Industrial action is under serious consideration,” said Mr Davey.
“I plan to send a report to the CWU headquarters requesting that a ballot be held on further industrial action.

“Workers are being treated in a degrading way and are being victimised.
“CWU members are irate and angry at this time,” he added.

Meanwhile a local postman has said he fears that it will take around six weeks to clear the backlog following the recent postal strike.

The West Belfast postman said that this is due to the fact that agency workers are being used to help with the backlog rather than giving those postal workers who went on strike overtime to clear the mail.

Those who went on strike are not allowed to claim unlimited overtime.

However those who did not take part are allowed to claim unlimited overtime.
“I can’t see this backlog being cleared in less than six weeks,” said the postman.

“If Royal Mail let the workers do overtime this could be cleared in a week and a half, instead they are getting agency workers to do the work and they don’t know the areas and are inexperienced.

“Not giving us the overtime is pettiness on the part of Royal Mail and means that the public are not getting their post,” he added.

A spokeswoman for Royal Mail said that the company have brought in additional resources including 150 temporary staff and 80 additional vans to help clear the backlog.

She said that temporary staff would receive training before taking on any work and it is estimated that the backlog will take three to four weeks to clear, adding that Royal Mail will do everything they can to complete this ahead of schedule.

“We have explained to employees who chose to take unofficial strike action that they can continue to claim whatever ordinary levels of overtime they would normally work, but they will not be allowed to claim unlimited levels of overtime,” said the spokeswoman.

“This is not the case for employees who worked through the strike.

“Royal Mail is asking people from across its operations to assist in getting the service back to normal. Our plans to clear the backlog are different to what some employees might have expected. Nevertheless, we expect everyone to be completely focused on this task as it is no less than our customers expect and deserve."

Journalist:: Roisin McManus

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